The Edmond Sun

August 14, 2013

‘Success comes from passionate teaching’

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A few more than 2,000 Edmond teachers and administrators packed into the Memorial High School auditorium and spilled into the foyer Wednesday for their Convocation. They were celebrating a new year, new students, a new school and new attitudes.

As in any good celebration, free prizes were drawn and each teacher will be given a Sam’s membership card provided by the Edmond Public Schools Foundation.

The morning’s theme was about success and how to achieve it as teachers were motivated by Lance West, KFOR anchor, the Twin Prov with OKC Improv, Superintendent David Goin and Edmond’s Teacher of the Year Peter Markes.

West told the teachers, “You teach, nurture, love, inspire and invest in your students. I want to thank you for the investment you have made in my children and the relationships you formed with them. I urge you to continue to develop relationships with your students. You are the key that unlocks a world of possibilities.”

Twin Prov’s Buck and Clint Vrazel entertained the audience with their rap music containing words gleaned from answers to questions asked the teachers. One of the most popular raps was, “’Homeless teacher, please build me a building,’ ‘Help us keep them engaged as we teach them on a stage,’ ‘Everything we do, everything we did, it’s all about the kids!’”

Superintendent Goin took the stage and told the teachers their new building, Frontier Elementary, is almost finished and they will have a place to go. Frontier, elementary No. 16 will be opening Tuesday with a few last-minute things to finish; Heritage, elementary No. 17, opens next fall; and middle school No. 6 opens the year after that.

“We are seeing astounding growth in our school district, but it is the people who make the difference in our schools,” Goin said.

Judy Pendergraft was recognized for her 47 years of service to the district as Goin said, “She represents all that is outstanding in our district.”

Goin welcomed the 227 new teachers to the district as he said a vast number of teachers in the district have taught less than 10 years.

“As the community changes so do the faces of our teachers,” Goin said. “What we can’t change is what we are all about, and that is student focus. Uncompromising integrity is one of the greater lessons we can teach our children.”

Goin shared the inscription of what success is that was written on a coffee mug given to him more than 30 years ago as he changed the wording to meet the occasion. The inscription paraphrased was, “I am a success when I bring out the best in others and give the best of myself. Successful is the person who strives quietly to make his corner of the world a little better.”

The theme of success was continued by Edmond’s Teacher of the Year Peter Markes as he was joined by Kyle Dillingham and four North High School orchestra students accompanying him.

“When I was 19 I sat down and wrote a song based on a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson,” Markes said. “It is titled ‘Success.’”

The words of the song tell the listener to leave the earth a better place. Laugh often and much and earn the affection of children. Strive to know even one life has breathed easier because of you.

Markes told the teachers they must be invigorated and to lead their students with passion as they teach. He told them to ask themselves three questions.

First, “Do you bring something of substance to your lessons?” Markes asked the audience. “Show your students you are smart, prepared and passionate and that you are willing to work for them (to learn).”

Secondly, “Can your students trust you to do what you say you are going to do?” Markes asked. “Show them grit and that you are going to stick with them and that you are not going to quit trying to help them learn.”

Third, ask yourself if you care for them as a human being and do you show them that, Markes said. “They don’t care about how much you want them to know; they care about how much you care for them.”

Markes told the teachers, if it comes to being right or being kind, be kind. Make your classroom a place that is safe. Encourage students and help them develop a sensitivity to get a beautiful heart.

“And remember, Markes said, “to laugh often and much.”